My Wardrobe Essential: The Old Sweatshirt

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We played the game of “Life” not long ago. At times, I get distracted during these board games and, even though it’s usually just the three of us playing–my husband, my son Ethan and me–I lose track of who’s turn it is.

It’s your turn, Mrs. Wear-A-Sweatshirt-Every-Day.

Ethan didn’t say it in a snarky way. Just matter-of-fact. I had no retort, other than, “I don’t wear the same sweatshirt every day” and “I don’t always wear a sweatshirt!” (Do I?) I think I also told him I could wear sweatshirts because it wasn’t like I was going anywhere. That was important to qualify since I’m always harping on him to mix up his school wardrobe. “Didn’t you just wear that?” I’ll ask in frustration. “Are you sure that’s clean?” P.S. he has lots of sweatshirts and does not like to wear them. Hmmmm. Wonder why?

Why should I worry about my appearance? I work from home.

My son may put quotation marks around the word “work.” At the age of not-quite-ten (at the time), he doesn’t equate working from home as working. It doesn’t help that I don’t make any money–thank you, economy–since my business has been in the red since day one and writing doesn’t really pay unless you’re J.K. Rowling. When convenient, both my husband and son tell me all I ever do is work!

Back to the sweatshirts. I like sweatshirts. They’re simple. And, overall, I’m a jeans kind of gal, which fits my environmental advocate persona. I’m not saying my sweatshirts are all eco-friendly—I’ve collected them from hither and yon over the years. One always needs a sweatshirt, right? I’m careful to choose cute, non-bulky sweatshirts. I do have a fave super cozy sweatshirt from 1984 that used to be my husband’s track sweatshirt. Yes. I claim it as my own.

I let my husband borrow my fave sweatshirt on this day.

If I’m “just” working from home, why waste my better clothes (i.e., cute long sleeve t-shirt) on that? Plus, it’s winter, so I need to be able to allow a comfortable fit over my long underwear and, potentially, another layer. I have sweaters, but since my cats like to climb up on me while I work on my laptop, they’ll instead be loaded with cat fur, in need of vacuuming. Maybe it would help if I didn’t drink a freezing cold smoothie every morning.

Earlier this morning, I was in a pair of sweats, my husband’s old gray sweater. Under that? An old long sleeve tee! By old, I mean I have it for over 10 years. My excuse for crummy early morning attire is that, to make an effort, I’d have to turn on some lights. Don’t want to wake the sleeping husband. Did I mention the afghan?

Side note on the afghan. I’m always cold so, invariably, I’m wrapped in an afghan. Even when making my son’s breakfast, on chilly days, I’ve got it draped around my shoulders. The other day I was joking around, calling myself an old lady. “What would you like for breakfast today, sonny?” I asked my son in an shaky old lady voice, hunched over, staggering around the kitchen with my invisible cane. “I’m Mrs. Afghan. From Afghanistan.” He laughed.

Soon I will be donning my running gear. Then I promise to wear something that won’t stop me from answering the front door should a surprise visitor arrive.

I had a discussion about my daily attire with my therapist a while back. I wear the old “crappy” clothes because I don’t want to mess up the “good stuff.” And by good, I don’t mean high fashion, trendy, paint-the-town-red outfits. I’m talking about  unworn long sleeve tees and sweaters that aren’t all pilled up. I don’t want to ruin the good stuff because then… it will get worn out! Then I’ll have to buy new stuff. And since my husband was laid off for 2 1/2 years (now, thankfully, employed since September 2011), buying new clothes was not in the cards. Now my problem is that we’re catching up after those years with zero income. And I abhor shopping.

“How come you wear sweatshirts all the time?” Ethan asked.

“Because we can’t afford to buy new clothes,” I said. But I knew that was a weak response. I can choose to wear the less worn items. What’s wrong with feeling better about how I look in the comfort of my own home? Well, I may have an excuse layered on top of another excuse: Except for the rogue consulting gig or days painting houses with my younger brother–my husband is here with me every day. If I look too cute, he may get overly amorous thus distracting me from my work. How would I get anything done?

I do feel better—bubbly even—when I’m more presentable. Gee. Is that a revelation? Until a hole formed in the elbow recently (I only noticed it because I felt a chill on my arm), “presentable” used to mean once-cute-form-fitting-twelve-year-old Ralph Lauren sweater. But I think even that was a stretch for being presentable. The hole gives it character.

Today I vow to shed the title of Mrs. Wear-A-Sweatshirt-Every-Day by not wearing a sweatshirt. Instead, I will put on a sweater that’s not too old. And, in order to be afghan-free, I’ll do mini warm-up breaks from my computer –a set of jumping jacks here, a run of laundry up the stairs there.

(Now I finally understand why my Dad still wears his maple leaf belt buckle that he’s had since the 70′s).

Update: One year later and I’ve improved. Slightly. What’s a sweatshirt lover to do?

* originally published on elephantjournal.com.

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One Comment to “My Wardrobe Essential: The Old Sweatshirt”

  1. My wife’s favorite sweatshirt was mine at one point. She wore in once and claimed it. i should add that I am 6 foot tall and come in around 260 and my wife is 5’6. needless to say it is a dress on her. Still she is beautiful in it.

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